Staymen. Idared. Golden Delicious.
Miss Sandra rattles off apple sorts in the same confident rhythm a Starbucks Gold Card holder uses to order coffee. A flatbed-load of pickers has just been dumped in her orchard, and before she lets these novice agrarians loose, there’s a little ground to cover.
“I encourage everyone to taste each kind,” she says, “so that you know just what you’re taking home.”
Baugher’s Farm in Westminister, Md., is about 70 miles from the District. The farm has been around since 1904. Every weekend in October brings old men stirring giant skillets of apple butter, moms and dads frying up funnel cakes, and children trotting through a corn field on the backs of ponies. But, it’s the acres of pick-your-own land that have guests lining up a country mile.
A $1 ticket buys a ride on a John Deere shuttle that chugs from festival to apple orchard to pumpkin field. Along the way, there’s a petting zoo with peacocks.
The orchards sit high on a hill and are framed by cornfields. When the wind blows you can hear the corn husks whisper under the thuds of bad apples hitting the ground. Good ones fill sturdy plastic totes.
One bag full of Miss Sandra’s apples will weigh about 20 pounds and cost about $20.
If it’s just fresh apples you want, any urban farmer’s market will do. If the perfect autumn day, authentic to the core, is what you’re seeking then you’re going to have to drive to the country.